This name may be of native Scots origin, deriving from the Borders family of Hop or Hoip. John de Hop of Peeblesshire and Adam le Hoip both appear on the Ragman Roll of Scottish nobles submitting to Edward I of England in 1296. The Middle English ‘hop’ means ‘small valley’ and as a component part is a common place name. Nisbet suggests another derivation may be from the family de H’oublons of Picardy. The French ‘oublon’ means ‘hop’, and when translated into English it became Hope. The immediate ancestor of the principal line, John de Hope, is said to have come to Scotland from France in 1537 as part of the retinue of Magdalen, first wife of James V. He married and settled in Edinburgh where he prospered and had a son, Edward, who was a commissioner for Edinburgh to the first General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1560. His grandson, Sir Thomas Hope, was appointed Lord Advocate by Charles I. He acquired the estate of Craighall in the parish of Ceres in Fife, which thereafter was the principal family designation.
Sir Thomas Hope of Craighall was one of the greatest lawyers of his time, and his work, Hopes Practicks, is occasionally referred to by Scots lawyers today. In 1628 he was created a Baronet of Nova Scotia and in 1638 was a drafter of the National Covenant. He died in 1646, having seen two of his sons raised to the Supreme Court Bench. His eldest son, who succeeded to the Baronetcy, took the judicial title of ‘Lord Craighall’. He is credited with advising the exiled Charles II to ‘tret with Cromwell for the one half of his cloak before he lost the whole’. The sixth Baronet sold the estate of Craighall in 1729 to his kinsman, the Earl of Hopetoun. Sir Thomas Hope, eighth Baronet of Craighall, was a noted agricultural improver, and the Edinburgh parklands known as The Meadows, bordered by the street known as Hope Park, were laid out by him. The sixteenth Baronet was a Member of Parliament for Midlothian from 1912 to 1918, and served with distinction in both the Boer War and the First World War.
The Hopetoun branch of the family came from Sir James Hope, younger son of the great Lord Advocate, who acquired lands in West Lothian and took as his territorial style, Hopetoun. His son, John Hope of Hopetoun, drowned in the wreck of the frigate Gloucester, and it is believed that he died saving the Duke of York, later James VII. This act may have contributed to the meteoric rise of his son, Charles who, as soon as he became of age in 1702, was elected to Parliament for Linlithgow. He was quickly appointed to the Privy Council, and on 5 April 1703 was raised to the peerage as Earl of Hopetoun, Viscount Aithrie and Lord Hope. The great mansion of Hopetoun House was first planned during the first Earl’s infancy, and it is today considered one of William Adam’s masterpieces.
During the eighteenth century the Earls of Hopetoun amassed vast estates, until they came to own most of West Lothian as well as large parts of East Lothian and Lanarkshire. General Sir John Hope, later the fourth Earl, was a distinguished soldier who was with Sir John Moore at Corunna in 1809. He fought throughout the Peninsular War and returned safely to his ancestral estates. He was prominent in the revitalisation of the Royal Company of Archers (the bodyguard of the monarch in Scotland), of which he was to become captain general. He staged a magnificent reception for George IV at Hopetoun House in 1822 during the king’s famous visit to Scotland. John Adrian Hope, the seventh Earl, was Lord Chamberlain to Queen Victoria from 1898 to 1900. He was the first Governor General of the newly created Australian Commonwealth in 1900. He was created Marquess of Linlithgow in October 1902. The second Marquess was Viceroy of India from 1936 to 1943.
The family still reside at Hopetoun, which has now been placed in trust to preserve this great monument for the nation. The senior line of Hope, the Baronets of Craighall, also survive today, and are the claimants to the chiefship of this noble name.